Friday, November 27, 2015


Earlier this week Keech concluded his 2-month visit, which in terms of elder time lasted slightly over 3-4 days, maybe a week. Elder time, as all we who live it know, accelerates exponentially. I had barely spun three times in my wheelchair at the Big K's arrival, when he was waving farewell at the station.

Despite the headspinning brevity of it all, it was great to have a youthful body around that could run upstairs 2 or 3 steps at a time and then bound down like he had wings somewhere, lift heavy objects and split wood for hours, though that latter task was difficult for me to merely watch and not be too much of a supervisor, since I used to know right well how to do it all myself-- and better than anyone else, now that I’m unable.

Among the more-than-a-year-overdue household chores that awaited the limbs and energy of youth were such tasks as painting, caulking, chainsawing, lugging logs and climbing ladders onto trees and roofs, plus major etc. I'd never realized how many limbs and convolutions are actually needed for the formerly 'simple’ task of climbing a ladder and then moving around on it to even higher, teetery places -- a fearful set of skills, best not to watch. There are so many key areas of common life to which one has given little or no thought by this common time in my life-- a shocking series of revelations, when at last they dawn and one has thankfully survived, predominantly intact.

It was nice too to have renaissance conversations with the Big K, those rambling-where-they-will kind that I enjoy so much... he was more focused in his older being than when I last saw him... 

All those many thanks to Keech...

As to my own ongoing return, of which more anon, my blurry hand is more and more finding its own place-- often irritatingly insisting on it in fact, like a child (it is, after all, little more than a year old): I wanna brush teeth! I wanna use those scissors! I wanna open that jar! Lemme try! I can carry that! etc. Go ahead, I say; knock yerself out! 

A heartening thing, such ambition in the young...

Friday, October 30, 2015


One day recently, with Keech at my side here in Japan while FaceTiming with Kasumi and the Trio in CA, upon seeing my image in the corner of the iPad screen I remarked with some surprise: "As I get older, I'm looking more and more like Keith Richards..."

At that, two  sibling voices from opposite sides of the globe responded as one: "WHO?" 

            --- Commence extended freezeframe of deep intergenerational awareness ---

As had happened at several recent instances in my life, what had been cultural Everests were suddenly shown to be current divots. Our family's earlier Western-flavored musical component had been more of a dylan-zappa-doors-nirvana-pixies blend, so this reaction was not so big a surprise, but one does accumulate a certain mindfill of beloved cultural debris over the decades, in contrast to which a more youthful perspective -- however chronically misguided -- can come as a shock. Thus marches history and its icons backward across the stage and beyond the wings, out of sight but to those who remember...                  Exeunt big time...

As to book affairs, the Simple Vegetarian Recipes 1-9 series from The Big Elsewhere will begin their shared appearance on Facebook any day now (long-term PLM readers please FB friend me), as soon as Kaya has completed her art work and the computer stops fritzing around. 

 Also, I can now fully extend my right arm.

Friday, October 16, 2015


Heian-kyo Media page

Kind words or comments/reviews, Facebook etc. "likes" much appreciated. More on all this etc. later, when I have more than a minute.

Sunday, September 06, 2015


More and more often these nights, I realize in a dream that I have just walked casually across a room before it occurs to me that I have forgotten to use my cane... Yet the freely walking experience feels fully normal to me, unaccompanied by the usual regret at it being only a dream... even though I awaken again to the same status of ambulatory ability.

Nonetheless, the grip in my right hand is growing stronger daily, and my old crippling shoulder pain has diminished to the point that I can almost turn and lie on the shoulder directly, even fall asleep on my right side, for the first time in over a year since the big short circuit! 

Going full circuit, as the final days draw near for completion and publication of The Big Elsewhere -- John E. arrives back from the US today, the final proofing has been done, and following final selection and arrangement of sumie illustrations, the first full-edition pdf, for starters, will be ready to send out.

Deb's welcome idea for promoting The Big Elsewhere by posting Simple Vegetarian Recipes as a stanza series took a quantum leap when I got the special arts crew of Kasumi and the Trio on board, Kaya, Mitsuki and Miasa to do three stanzas each and Kasumi to supervise. The Trio are thrilled by the idea, especially since they're in the book! The first test drawings are every bit as charming and to-the-mark as I expected.

And as though to top it all off, yesterday evening as I was returning here after my usual Saturday visit to the house on the mountain (where  I set new up-and-down speed records on the stairway), I had ambled out the door a leisurely few yards, almost to the car, when I realized I had forgotten my cane, only this time I wasn't dreaming...

Felt pretty normal, too.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

                                                                         (From journal archives, 1996)

At this stage in my life I'm having a lot more conversations with vegetables, particularly eggplant and cabbage. The lack of in-depth, one-on-one vegetable conversations in my earlier years reached its low point when I moved into the city with its hypovegetable ambience of concrete, asphalt, sirens, car horns, subterranean rumblings, auto exhaust, broken sunlight, demented wind, artificial weather and whatnot, unlike the countryside with its genuine climate-filled original silence, rich with the whispers of history and teeming with animal and vegetable conversations, including those of weeds and other less raucous foliage, all with a core of tranquility.

Though I realize now that vegetables have always sought my attention in one way or another, whether through their varied crispness, showy leafery, supermarket vegetable signs or by just pushing up out of the ground right at my feet. The turnips, kohlrabis, eggplants and broccolis of my younger days didn't get through sometimes, and when they did I often wasn't listening (youth feels little kinship with the vegetative, except during college) so I didn't get to hear their half of it, though I've always appreciated the fiber content.

When after marketing my older adult life for a sufficient number of decades I was at last able to move back into the country and resume the vegetable dialog pretty much where we'd left off, I began to realize how much vegetables had done for me, how big a role they'd played in my life despite my early disdain for their contribution (vegetables are a lesson to us all) and I could understand more clearly than ever how they had called me back home in their various accents, from the crinkly flutterings of lettuces and the dry, aristocratic tone of eggplants to the sensual implications of tomatoes. The firm gesticulations of cabbage and the tacit attitude of carrots have also become more endearing over time, as have the glottals of okra and the orotundities of pumpkins, just to mention some conversational rows in my garden.

There was nothing in the big city like my old and true friends, who always say precisely what they mean and then live up to every word.  

Saturday, August 15, 2015


Today I at last received a proof copy of my new book, The Big Elsewhere, which has been a couple of years in the writing and compiling, with sumie illustrations by Komori Fumio.

In the book I have distilled our 20 years of life here on this rural mountainside into an organic arrangement of "Views from a mountainside," slightly over 300 pages, from my journal writings, publications, public readings and selected, edited Pure Land Mountain entries arranged ("choreographed," as I like to think of it) by master arranger Ken Rodgers, with such chapter headings as: Living High, Deep Weather, Talk on the Wild Side, Monkeys and Onions, Walking with a Child, True Destinations, Where Is the Wild? and The Endless Breath, to name about a third of the chapters. It's a full volume in more ways than one.

Following thorough proofing and final editing, The Big Elsewhere will initially be available via publisher Heian-kyo Media at the Kyoto Journal, hopefully some time in late September-early October. Feedback and suggestions for reviews and promotion most welcome.

Thursday, August 06, 2015


Here and there in the grains of photos remaining from that time you can see the blurred outline of a person, sometimes with a child or even two, walking where the way was once familiar, but now was the bottom of an incinerator the size of their city, still burning through them even as they walked, perhaps to escape the heat of all the nothing that remained...

At other places in the mass of the ashes of a hundred thousand lives turned into wind and rain you can make out the speck of another one still living, bent over searching, sifting in vain through blackened flakes of what once was life, once a place of daily living, where now nothing stood, where all was flat and dark, dust and fragments of death...

After the fires died, first the relatives came seeking their loved ones, one mother searching for her daughter who that morning had gone into town early so she could pay the rent on her way to work, but the mother never found her daughter...

That mother and all the others - fathers, sisters, sons, daughters, brothers - wandered for days, weeks, the rest of their lives in their hearts in those ashes of a city of families, passing by in their dreams those passengers on the train who were charcoal statues in their seats, or those still just alive who wandered also, in search of death that waited only days away, or those who had left their instant white shadows on the flash-darkened stone of the bridge or the building when they'd joined the unseeable light...

All of it on that August morning-- every ash of bone, every unheard scream, every sear of pain or cry for love, every tear of life, every atom of vapor that had been a person-- all of it, is in our voices now...

Friday, July 31, 2015


In this instance, a right hand.

In the middle of winter nights I often had to pull the blankets up on my hospital bed using my left (good) hand. It was an action familiar to me by now, some 4 months after I had clambered onto the comet. At that time, I was not yet using my right hand (I was originally right-handed) because it was still short-circuited and sensitive. So my right arm lived pretty much on its own during this time, and seemed to have forgotten the finer points of handship altogether. I was doing exercises, but the response was primitive, so I wasn't expecting too much too fast; for the time being, at least, I had resigned myself to left-handedness, which had a new interest all its own.

Then one winter night I was again aroused from deep sleep by a cold right arm and had to pull the blankets up. My left hand was maneuvering the covers with the usual drowsy impatience when all at once, from out of  the darkness came a ghostly right hand, emerging slowly from beneath the blanket! It scared the hell out of me. The hand then proceeded to try awkwardly to-- lend a hand. My right hand was wanting to be a hand again! It had ambition! And some form of manual pride! It wasn't going to be left behind, not if it had anything to say about it.

That was when I began to think I was going about this in the wrong way. My right hand was telling me something. I had been thinking that I knew more about being a hand than a hand did. I was treating a hand like a mindless tool, or at most a tool with my mind, currently short-circuited. But here was a hand trying to be a hand all on its own; I wasn't a party to this effort. What I call my hand was wanting to be a hand again: it missed its old job!

As I've said or intimated more than once in these scribblings, my mind knows more than I do. I should pay deeper attention to myself.

Friday, July 24, 2015


For decades, it has been your partner in the enterprise. Like you, it has its scars. After you've split a day's worth of fuel for next winter-- this winter's fuel is long ready-- you clean yourself up for the evening and though you wipe the axe clear, maybe sharpen it for tomorrow, it still bears the marks of plunges into the hard grains of oak, hickory, ironwood, as you do, but visibly. There is a price, after all; you can see it in the iron, feel it in the bone.


It looked so lonely, sitting there, my old friend, worn companion of so many labors, uncomplaining bearer of all those years of strenuous effort that we'd shared.

Nonetheless it had held up well, the old camphorwood splitting stump, from what I could see of it through the car window, just the top of it sticking up through the conquering weeds in the rain as we pulled into the drive. It was a lifetime away from me now... 

At that moment the inanimate stump seemed like an old friend, I knew it so well. It was where I'd sweated and sworn, busted my jeans, got hit by a wedge, dodged the axe, wore out years of muscle and bone, rolled the stump under the plum tree in Spring, to work in the shade...

I knew it would wait there forever, that gnarly old trunk, it would wait through sun and rain, through winters, and I'd never be coming back to swing that heavy axe, watch the fragrant woodpile grow-- imagine feeling heartache over a splitting stump.

You feel the true values at the pinpoints of life.

Sunday, July 19, 2015


The sublimity in simply sitting here, with only nature as company, that calls to the nature in myself, of eyes and sounds, scent and touch, that quickens in me all the roots from which I stem... all the implication of my direct lineage with sunlight and branching trees, my kinship with running streams and rising clouds, insect song and moving air-- the colors, the music, the graces of motion, so vast in their ways to my clockworn being as to hold me in their time at last as one among them, together in the sublimity of simply being...

Thursday, June 18, 2015


The dance of the light-- what a performance to behold each time, as it plays down the mountainside in motions of green and gold toward the dark of the waters that stretch to the far side of perception, every wave, like every leaf and blade, performing the movements that only nature can command... 

The clouds in the distance do their part, rising and advancing in their opalescent finery, the straight blue line of the Lake horizon dividing the scene into perspectives that artists range their lives on-- all the tints of blue, all the hues of green, the shades of thought, hints of memory and of yearning spelled out there in aspects beyond the reach and grasp of eyes alone, all going on from light into dark as the heart goes on, holding and letting go--

The hinge of the heart understands these things, shares their echoes with those who want moments to go on, life to go on as it is, but that is not the way of days, or of beauty...

                                                             --Dedicated to my dear friend John Velie, fondly remembered.

Monday, June 15, 2015


I was watching rain on television the other day like a modern person, you can still just slip into that mode sometimes without thinking. At first I didn't realize the bizarrity of the fact, but then it hit me: I was watching rain on television to find out whether it was raining outside. 

It was raining outside, but only on TV. The TV rain was falling on some other outside that was standing in, as it were, for what could actually happen here, i.e., rain. And then where would we be, we ask ourselves in silence,  we've got to get some umbrellas or something, we've got to act, look at what might occur, and right where we are! Water falling from the sky on us walking along!

Fortunately, as I've indicated, the weather on TV is almost always somewhere else, raining on some other unfortunate city, because if it's raining here, then of course, like most news, it's not news, because then everybody knows it's raining, especially since a lot of folks are right out in it already, what can you do, word gets around, people bring the info home with them, which makes it primarily pointless to get your weather from a weatherperson indoors on tv.

It used to be that if for some reason we couldn't turn our heads to look out a window, we just opened a door and stuck a hand outside, but the days of hands outside are long gone. And good riddance, many unweathered smart alecks say, though I often miss the old ways and time they took to make things come true...

Sunday, May 24, 2015


Soon after my release from the hospital in February, I visited home for a few hours during the late deeps of winter up here, to get an early start on the domestic personal Everests.

Primarily I wanted to scale the escarpment of steps to the distant second floor, my first stairway attempt; it loomed in the subjective mists like the Stairway to Heaven. I used a lateral approach without crampons or pitons, going sideways both feet on each step, a long, slow tedious process reminiscent of efforts toward the traditional afterlife.

Got to the summit at last - this was where I'd boarded the comet - caned my way around some rooms, debotted the PC, got out some clothing for Spring, realized for the first real meaningful time that the bathroom was downstairs, now a distant place involving serious rapelling time and reverse footwork logistics - gone the days when these same feet barely touched the steps flying down taking two or three steps at a time - but I have more careful things to do now, more to be hazarded, so it would all balance out nicely, as soon as I got to the bottom...

Endless list of other new tasks to master while my hand and leg are finding themselves. Good thing I love puzzles. The topological problem of putting on a long-sleeved shirt, for example: how can the outside of one side turn behind your back into the inside of the other side? It's literally beyond me. To think that all those stroke-hindered people I've seen in my life underwent and overcame all those same challenges, with so few complaints!

And what a range of them! What? No stair railing on the left-hand side going up? No hand rails in the toilet? At the entryway just one big smooth log? How can even a one-dish meal kinda guy do anything here of the cook-and-carry type while using a cane, with the other hand still in early training and the slow foot without a leg to stand on? Spend a lot of early time eating at the sink, I expect. I've been there, that can be good. I'm also learning to use scissors again; that's always a thrill. Handwriting and chopsticks, on the other hand, are frissons of a higher order.

In any case there's little point in complaining, since you're all alone with the Stairway.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


Finally I have the time and mind, ability and space to begin to try and respond collectively to the uplifting communications so many of you have kindly afforded me over the past several months; please be assured they were of great support to me in finding uplift for my new wings. It has been interesting to take on the challenge of mobility again at my age. I just wish I could remember more of how I did it the first time; toddling seems so effortless, in retrospect. Of course, back then I had all the time in the world, and falling was a key learning tool.

Finally left the hospital six months after sufficient recovery from what turned out to be a relatively contained left-brain cerebral hemorrhage (not "massive," as was first announced here). I attribute it partly to stress (zipping around like a 40-year-old) but mainly to my last two motorcycle accidents. I have foresworn use of vehicles other than my good leg, until perhaps such time as I regain pedal-to-the-metal capabilities. Went through the two-month recovery period (lot of great people and good stories there) and then the 4-month limit on rehab (ditto for stories there), then moved to a private rehab center much nearer our house to polish up on my Fred Astaire moves and cane-wielding skills. I finally returned to the house for the first time on a bright Spring Sunday, nine months after I had been carried away on a comet.

Spent a good part of the initial you-can't-go-home-again time figuring out how to get from car door to house door across the formerly beautiful rugged stone driveway with just a cane and then open the heavy rugged door with half the pull power, then how to take my shoes off while teetering not-quite two-legged in the genkan, then how to ascend the Gibraltar that was now the step that had always led to the beautiful - but now primarily slippery - oak board floor level, where at last I stood looking gingerly around at the spacious residence where once I had jetted so easily updownstairs and from room to room with my eyes closed, if I wanted. When we'd designed this place I sure hadn't had me in mind...

What a difference a difference makes.

(To be continued)

Monday, August 04, 2014


Judging by my cucumbers, the monkeys have changed their accounting standard.

Back in the glory days, their standard was to crash my garden, snatch and eat whatever they could on the spot or grab whatever they could carry, run a safe distance, eat the haul, come back for more, if any, then keep doing that until it was all gone or I was still throwing rocks. A simple standard, suited to the mountain forest lowlifestyle.

But civilization has been encroaching, as it tends to do. Historically, the same thing has happened to pirates, highwaymen, Wall Street and other forms of human brigandage, though there are signs that those changes are unraveling. On the simian side, the old standard worked well for the beasts during the good-time years, when I was planting rows of onions for them, I was planting rows of their potatoes, I was planting walls of tomatoes and cucumbers out of boundless admiration for my simian overlords, lots of everything for them, even sweet potatoes, guy from the city, and different varieties of it all, various squashes, even got blueberries, plums and loquats in there, not to mention 2 kinds of gourmet mushrooms, which the chompers really love.

Over the years, as they stole from me, I learned from them. Which was easier than with humans, because owing to certain cortical limitations, as well as social customs, e.g., no pockets, no briefcases, no banks, no Wall Street equivalent, my simian colleagues have evolved only a primitive form of greed, known locally as "paws and jaws," a concept familiar to monkey accountants, but seldom seen in human society other than in derivative markets, where it is referred to as "hand over fist."

For my part in this ever ongoing battle of ethics, I regained my old pitching eye and arm, did what else I could: I gathered rocks and stashed them strategically, put up a fence and gradually stopped planting the types of things that monkeys like, because it's difficult to grow that kind of stuff to fruition anyway, but to then have it consumed by thankless creatures... In time, I got almost as crafty as a monkey; the only thing that held me back was my job.

Despite that handicap, my efforts seem to have pressured the monkeys into changes of their own. I’m hearing more and more that the hairy marauders have started raiding gardens down in the village, which they never used to do. (I'm publishing this only in English.) "You can only get onions were there are onions!" is now major monkey dogma; same rule for potatoes, zucchinis etc.

So lately I've been noticing changes, like the other day - and then again today - I found a ready-to-harvest cucumber hanging among other similarly ready cucumbers, but with only ⅓ of it bitten off by patently monkey teeth, leaving nearly 67% for yours truly. A pretty high vig if you ask me, but it was only one cucumber, and if you also ask me "Is your take better than 0%," I have to say yes. Sooner or later, though, I must consult with my arboreal neighbors, person-to-ape, in mutual frankness, so I can make them an offer they can't refuse.

I also recommend that a human version of my SFD program (Stones, Fences, Deprivation) be tried on Wall Street.

Friday, July 25, 2014


Anybody who still believes that crows don’t swear was definitely not in bed with me this morning. I was there, though, savoring the peaceful ambiance of a morning dream until it was shattered by a long, loud repetition of America’s most popular curse word, coming from a high branch of the chestnut tree. It's a term not much used out here in the Japanese countryside; it's mostly used in the big cities, where it has far more utility. I recognized the word at once, even though it was in Crow.

It had to be Young Crow. He probably picked the word up while strutting in the chestnut tree waiting for his mother to feed him, while I was down below, splitting knotty oak. (It has to be knotty to get a good swearstream going.) Crows are excellent mimics; they also use tools, and words are tools, so need I say more. Come to think of it, Young Crow must be the only crow in Japan that really nails the rhythmic and tonal niceties of the term. Lacking lips, he can’t quite get the F, but the enunciation is close enough to be effective, especially at that volume.

And in a bird so young! Until recently he'd been a big mama’s boy, strutting local summits like the chestnut tree, complaining about his hunger and lengthy solitude, calling over and over to his mama for more more more food, which she fetched to him as quickly as she could, back and forth from the vast larder that is my garden and its neighborhood, while she - much smaller than chubbyboy - got thinner and thinner as her tubby darling scarfed the general vicinity. Now he was grown enough to finally be on his own, and he was not pleased with the new arrangement.

On and on and on he went, cursing at all the ground around, much as my boss and later my drill sergeant used to do, and with nearly the same sharp and steady rhythm. I’d never heard any crow do this before, no matter what age or mood. It was damn impressive, I must say. And in a bird so young!  Just confirms my long-held belief that cursing is an elemental drive.

Young crow has got his own life to live now, in any case, and should be given the chance to tarnish it a bit, just as we humans do, take some of the glare off. As the more experienced party, though, I'd advise the lad to spend more time on his delivery and, over the years, be sure add a bit more salt.

Life does have its needs.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

  • Wild pig invades property, ravages nothing in particular: “Just for fun of it” 
  • Leaves filling culvert and accumulating on roadside await attention 
  • Hornets nearly the size of  your hand invade carpenter bee nest in front eave; aftermath recalls Punic Wars 
  • Crow stops using chestnut tree outside upstairs bedroom window for nationwide dawn announcements 
  • Garden growing feral, organizing; home committee shorthanded, indecisive 
  • Deer enjoys nightly snack of beautiful pumpkin leaves growing in all directions from compost pit outside garden fence; “succulent blossoms a special treat” 
  • Fall of deceased oak awaited, chestnut going piece by piece 
  • Green wheelbarrow with yellow handles full of broken garden pots; mental committee allegedly forming 
  • Cherry limb that should have been trimmed a long time ago now popular woodpecker resort 
  • Uncleaned rain gutter bitches and moans even in light rain 
  • Brady hears loudest thunder in his life, in clear midday, right outside house; suspects unilateral attempt at stimulus 
  • Mushroom logs confused by weather have no idea where they are 
  • Anonymous midsized bird begins enjoying Brady cucumbers 
  • Water pressure falls unexpectedly one morning for no reason 
  • Generous village neighbor leaves some of her surplus sweet onions beside our door 
  • Local farmers visit upmountain paddies now and then  
  • All calm as rice grows 

Wednesday, July 02, 2014


Well, the Quartet left for the States this morning, and this afternoon in the bleak of my mood, which was bleakening by the minute as I stayed indoors amidst years of signs of the presence of grandchildren and thought about things for which thinking is of no use, I decided it might be better to go outside into the garden and do some needful overdues, engage in some activity that could at least have the effect of putting my mind's foot down elsewhere than on my own neck.

So I put on my work duds and went outside, opened the garden gate in all forthrightness and entered that green dominion, stood there looking around with suitably humble authority, chucked a few too-long-ignored plants under the chin and in return received the worst visual scolding I've ever gotten from a garden.

Some pretty nasty vegetal syntax out there-- bean and pepper sarcasm, cuke and goya irony right on down the untended rows. Given their passive and vulnerable nature, vegetables can be pretty ruthless when given a chance to lash out; naturally, they're gonna give it all they've got. Fortunately, the grandies had left the country, so they didn't have to experience this, not that neglected gardens are all that restrained in California. I did have an excuse, though, sort of - over the past few weeks there's been so much going on in my own life that required my time, focus and energy - but full-time, hardworking produce has little sympathy for the problems of absentee humans.

The peppers were covered with weevils to an extent that agri-bureaucrats could call abusive; the favas had toppled into yellow tangles of no return; the tomatoes - mainly a distraction for monkeys - were plunging into lowlife with abandon and the climbing beans had that rebellious attitude I remember from high school. Neglected lettuce as well can be pretty damned ungrateful. The only satisfied plants were the luxuriating weeds and the stately fennel, which needs no one to maintain or affirm its beauty. The Andean potatoes as well were brightleaved and thriving at this luxurious altitude. The overall picture, however, was not a pretty one.

I went around doing what I could for the survivors: clearing some space, weeding, thinning-- more sunlight here, a bit of support there, a little encouragement over here and so on, but they knew my heart wasn't in it, I could sense it in their attitude - you know the way vegetables can get - they knew that next year things would be even more different: only two mouths to feed and fewer hands to plant and weed and care, no new hearts to laugh and be amazed at all the surprises that can stem from seed into beauty, no more shared delights of the spirit, spread out over summers like there used to be...

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


Lotsa stuff going on, small stuff under the circs-- like the monkeys got all my biwa (loquats), what's new; I just took too long to get to them myself. Been meaning to post about the daily this and that but there's too much and too many types of bigger goings on, primary among them the fact that Kasumi and Trio are moving out of their apartment three years after moving here from up north right after the Fukushima disaster that set all this in motion.

The Quartet is now staying with us for the week of finalizing before moving on to California to start new lives there, so it's the beginning to an end of sorts for us as well; we'll now have less need for this big house, garden, firewoods... Uberdecisions must be considered; it's like I'm 25 again, but a few decades hopefully wiser... Hmmm...

This caught me short, I must admit; I'd been unaware of leaning so hard on the past, less toward the delight in things that come from tomorrow like light to the eye... But for the grandies themselves, whom I have seen grow to this loveliness, now will go on without end, just as it once would for me...

Once I did what they are doing: departed for but a mere spell of time - when I had so much of it - without need for a long glance back, since I would be returning before much time had gone-- and then one day, a moment ago was a lifetime away, and I learned that a heart could grow so large, hold dear so many worlds, and not quite fall to pieces...

Thursday, June 12, 2014


Being among kids is great for the joy supply, since kids can generate joy like oceans generate waves. When they’re infants, they can distill joy right out of the air, just by lying there and looking around. As they get older though, the process gets complicated by the many and various artificial joys that now await us all at birth. 

By the time modern infants are fully grown, they have encountered most of the complex array of add-ons that comprise civilized life nowadays, and if they have been so inclined - and so permitted - they have learned to look out, learned what to look out for, learned to be selective in their joys.  They know by now that natural joy is unalloyed.

Artificial joy can be fun - it can be fast, sweet and intoxicating - but being volatile and otherwise unstable, sooner or later it vaporizes or decays, often leaving a sticky, troublesome residue. If, out of one habit or another, your life tends more and more in that direction, the gooey result can in time leave you with a frown beyond understanding.

One big trick in modern life is to hold on to, honor and maintain the continuous you, your living source of pure joy, the kind you were born with, that smiled you as an infant.

Monday, June 09, 2014

JOURNAL ENTRY, December 2007

Yesterday Kaya and I went out to trim the plum tree. I got the ladder, saws and pruning shears; Kaya, nearly 7, likes the wheelbarrow, so she was in charge of that. The plan was, as I trimmed the small branches from the plum tree, Kaya would take them, clip them down to manageable size and put them in the wheelbarrow; when it was full, she would wheel the twigs over to the garden and dump them beside the compost pile.

So there we were-- I up on the ladder among the bare plum branches and Kaya standing beside the wheelbarrow with everything -- ready to go, but it seemed to seem to Kaya that something wasn't quite right, some essential was missing -- she realized what it was, ran into the house and came back out a few seconds later carrying her toy mouse, which she placed just where it belonged in the wheelbarrow. Now everything was ready.

But all plans carry seeds of change. As Kaya was doing her part with the plum twigs, she suddenly had an even better idea than our original one: she began to use the just-right pieces to build a fine house in the wheelbarrow for her mouse to live in, using the larger twigs for the frame and the smaller ones for the roof, with some nice roundish green leaves as shingles against the rain and snow, and who was I to object, from such a way-up-in-a-plum-tree perspective? From my view as material supplier, though the process was slowed by this radical redirection, the new architecture was attractive and functional. When the structure was completed it was getting dark, the plum tree had been trimmed - a little bit, anyway - the mouse was snug in the aptly named Wheelbarrow Mousehouse and it was time for night.

We're always asking heaven for more time, aren't we-- and there it is in front of us all along, right where we wanted it.